The call for abstracts has now closed. Thank you for your interest. 


Realist 2020 Abstract Submission Guidelines



Abstract submissions are invited for the International Conference for Realist Research, Evaluation, and Synthesis, which will be held in Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland from 24-26 March 2020.

The conference offers the opportunity to exchange experiences and learn more about realist approaches. This year, the focus is on exploring how realist synthesis, evaluation and research are being used in innovative ways, and in new and emerging fields of interest. 

If you have not been to a realist conference before, it is an open, informal and friendly gathering of people interested and involved in conducting realist work. Your fellow delegates come from a broad cross section of the research and evaluation community, as well as policy makers and evaluation commissioners. The pioneers of realist research and evaluation will be there, along with others experienced in realist methodology as well as those new to the approach. All are welcome and encouraged to submit an abstract or two so that we can all learn and benefit from each other.

We are especially interested to have submissions from:

  • people developing realist methodology or innovative methods in realist evaluation, synthesis and review (including rapid realist approaches)
  • people using realist approaches in innovative settings, for example in Indigenous research and evaluation or in relation to “wicked” social problems
  • decision-makers, policymakers and programme managers who are engaging with realist approaches
  • people presenting illustrations of solutions to problems encountered in realist practice
  • PhD and early career researchers and evaluators.

Posters and papers presenting realist work-in-progress and realist findings are also welcome.




A limited number of scholarships will be made available to individuals who have had papers or posters for the conference accepted, but who do not have the resources needed to pay to travel to and attend the conference.  Further information on scholarship opportunities will be included in the acceptance notifications that will go out on December 11, 2019.


Important Dates


Abstract submission deadline:    Friday, 25 October 2019
Notification of review outcome: Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Deadline for accepted authors to register to confirm attendance: Wednesday, 15 January 2020
Programme available online: Monday, 3 February 2020


Submission Process


The abstract submission process for Realist 2020 will be through an online submission portal. Presenting Authors are invited to create an account and submit an abstract for review according to the guidelines set out below. The same account will be used when you register for the conference. Should you require any assistance or have a query about online submission, contact


Presentation Type


1. Paper Submissions

  • Paper submissions are welcome as methods or methodology or topic based. Please use the correct template available in the template section.
  • If you are proposing a methods or methodology submission, please provide an overview of your main argument and the key points you will be addressing, and implications for realist work practice.
  • If you are proposing a topic-based submission (i.e. reporting on the findings from realist research, evaluation or synthesis), please provide the following: Background, Methods, Findings or Results and Conclusions. Please highlight the value of using a realist approach for your work.

For paper presentations a presentation type should be selected from normal, long, extra-long or Pecha Kucha.

1.1. Paper submission (Oral): Normal (30 minutes, including 10 minutes for questions and discussion.)

1.2 Paper submission (Oral): Long (45 minutes including 10-15 minutes for questions and discussion.)

1.3 Paper submission (Oral): Extra-long 60 minutes including 15 minutes for questions and discussion. 

If you want to present an extra-long session, you will be asked to provide an explanation for choosing this option.

1.4 Paper submissions: Pecha Kucha Format:

  • Presentations comprise 20 slides, and presenters spend 20 seconds on each slide, before the slides advance automatically. The presentation totals 6 minutes and 40 seconds in total. Presentations need to be concise and fast-paced. See Pecha Kucha presentations here
  • Presentations will be followed by 5 minutes for questions and discussion.

2. Workshop format

  • Workshops can be run before (on Monday 23 March) or during the conference. Duration: 90 minutes or half a day for pre-conference workshops, 90 minutes for within conference workshops.
  • Please let us know during submission if you are proposing a within-conference workshop, or a pre-conference workshop.
  • In your proposal, please explain the rationale, state what topic(s) the workshop will cover, intended learning outcomes for participants and an outline of how the workshop would run.

3. Poster format

Poster submissions are welcome. Size is A0 (0.84 x 1.19m) (portrait orientation).  Unfortunately we are unable to print posters, so please bring your copy with you.

4. Panel presentation format

  • Panel presentations may present different perspectives on an issue, or linked papers on a topic (for example, different aspects of a particular evaluation, or different evaluations of related programs).
  • Panel presentations will be 90 minutes long, including 20 minutes for questions and discussion.
  • In your abstract submission please explain the purpose of the session, who is on the panel, and how the session will be run and managed. We can provide a chair or moderator to support the session, if you identify in your abstract that you need one.

5. Roundtable, Knowledge Café or other participatory formats

  • Duration: 60 minutes or 90 minutes. Please state which on your submission.
  • Some issues are best tackled in participatory ways. These might be roundtable discussions, knowledge cafés, or some other method. 
  • In the abstract submission, please clearly describe the focus of the session, the format you want to use, why you want to use it, and how you will facilitate it.




Abstracts may be submitted under one of the conference themes. Suggestions as to what your submission might address are given below each heading.

Developing realist approaches and innovations in methodology: what have we all been up to?

  • Innovations in realist methods and methodology.

Innovations in the field: using realist approaches in diverse disciplines and settings

  • For example, indigenous settings, development organisations and research.

The utility of evidence from Realist Research, evaluation and synthesis

  • In what ways, how and for whom is evidence from realist work actually used?
  • New ways of using the knowledge from realist research, evaluation and synthesis
  • Why is realist evidence useful? When is it not useful?
  • Implementation science, knowledge mobilisation and realist approaches: new developments and innovations

Understanding causation

  • Different ways that causal processes can be understood and investigated. Using particular tools or methods to understand causation.

The role of stakeholders in realist research, evaluation and synthesis.

  • Engaging commissioners and knowledge users in realist approaches to evaluation and research: what works, for whom, in what circumstances and why?
  • Citizen involvement in realist approaches
  • Practical considerations in managing a project reference group
  • Innovations in stakeholder engagement

Solutions to problems in doing realist research, evaluation and synthesis

  • Transforming perceptions: why don’t some people use realist approaches and what have we done (or could we do) about it?
  • Selling realist research: how to pitch your idea to a funder, commissioner or colleagues.


  • Got something you really want to share but not sure how it might fit in? Submit anyway, we’re keen to hear what you have been thinking and doing.


Submission Guidelines and Templates


How to submit an abstract

The Presenting Author will be the contact person for the abstract submission process and needs to submit the abstract themselves. Once you enter the online submission portal, start by creating an Account. Please keep a record of the account details you use to set up the account as you will require them to log into both the Realist 2020 abstract submission system and Conference registration portals. When the abstract has been submitted successfully, a confirmation email will be sent to the Presenting Author.  You can save your submission as a draft and return to edit it up until the submission deadline.  Abstract submission deadline is 25th October 2019. 

If you have not received an email confirming your submission, please check that your abstract is not left in draft form in the online portal, and that it has been fully submitted by logging back into the portal and checking on the Edit Abstracts page. 

If you require any assistance regarding the submission of your abstract, contact


Submission Process:

The online abstract submission system is a simple step by step process and will ask you to input the following details:

  • Title of the abstract, word limit is 15
  • Presentation type (Oral, Pecha Kucha, Workshop, Poster, Panel Presentation, Roundtable/Knowledge Cafe)
  • Name, affiliation, and job title of Presenting Author (this person will normally be the presenter, or a presenter, for the paper).
  • Name, affiliation, and job title of co-author(s)
  • Abstract word limit is 350, excluding Title, Authors and Affiliations. If submitting an oral paper, please indicate if you would like a long or short session.
  • Download the abstract template applicable to your presentation type from those provided below to format the abstract as a Word document and then save as a Word file for uploading to the system. The system uses WORD (version 2013 and newer), so if possible please use this software.  If you do not have access to this software, then please contact the Programme Committee Chair who can help further (  Unfortunately, graphs and tables cannot be included in the abstract.


Abstract Submission Template

Abstracts must be formatted using the Realist 2020 template. Abstracts can be submitted in English only. Click on the button below to download the template.

Paper/poster methodology

Paper/poster topic



Roundtable/knowledge cafe




Review and Notification of Acceptance

All abstracts will go through a blind peer-review carried out by reviewers from the Realist 2020 Programme Committee.

Notification of acceptance or rejection will be sent to the Presenting Author on Wednesday 11 December 2019.

Registration of the Abstract Presenter

When notified of acceptance, please let us know if you are still available to present and that you will be coming.  You can do this by emailing the Programme Committee, or by registering for the conference.

Withdrawal Conditions & Change of Presenter

If you need to withdraw or change your presenter, please email the Programme Committee by Monday 6th January 2020 so we can update the conference programme.


Terms and Conditions


  • The abstract submitted follows the abstract submission guidelines outlines above.
  • We would like to publish the text of the abstract along with the names and affiliations, poster, PowerPoint presentations and/or additional documents on the conference website and book of abstracts. Please contact us if you do not want the abstract to be included (for instance, if it would raise copyright/privacy issues).  
  • The Programme Committee may need to offer Presenting authors a different type of presentation than the one originally requested. You will be advised if this is the case.
  • Presenting authors will need to advise co-presenters of arrangements for their papers.
  • To ensure your abstract is included in the Conference Abstract Book, all successful authors are invited to register for the conference by 15th January 2020.
  • The abstract submitted is in English.
  • The Presenting Author is available to present at the conference on whichever day their presentation is allocated.

If you have any queries regarding the above, please contact the Realist 2020 Programme Team